Giardia is a common intestinal parasite in dogs that can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and a generally unhealthy appearance. However, it's worth noting that some dogs can be infected with Giardia and not show any symptoms, particularly if they are otherwise healthy.
The most important part of treating Giardia is a proper diagnosis, often through a fecal test or snap test. Giardia cysts can be quite difficult to detect, so your vet might take multiple fecal samples over a few days to improve the chances of detection.
Once a diagnosis is confirmed, the treatment generally involves:
Antiprotozoal Medication: The most common treatment for Giardia is a course of antiprotozoal medications. Fenbendazole (often sold under the brand name Panacur) and metronidazole (Flagyl) are two commonly used medications. Both drugs have been proven effective against Giardia, but they work in different ways, and there can be side effects, especially with metronidazole. In some cases, the two drugs might be used together.
Follow-Up Testing: Because Giardia can be difficult to completely eliminate, it's important to have follow-up fecal examinations to ensure that the treatment has worked. This usually happens a few weeks after treatment has ended.
Hygiene and Environment Cleaning: Giardia cysts can survive in the environment, so thoroughly cleaning areas where the dog has been is important. This might include washing bedding and toys in hot water and thoroughly cleaning crates or kennels. It's also recommended to pick up feces promptly from the yard or other outdoor areas. If your dog is bathed, make sure to clean the rear end thoroughly, as Giardia cysts can be present in feces and can contaminate the fur.
Prevent Reinfection: To avoid reinfection, you should prevent your dog from drinking water from outdoor sources where Giardia could be present, like stagnant ponds or puddles.
Remember, this information is general in nature, and the best course of treatment for any pet will depend on the specifics of their case and should be decided in consultation with a veterinarian.